Major (Ret.) Josh Mantz is a graduate of West Point’s famous “Class of 9/11” and served as an Infantry Officer in the United States Army for nearly 10 years. He’s a recipient of the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with Valor, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge and is one of 25 Veterans showcased in the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus, Ohio. Josh held a variety of leadership positions throughout his military career. He served as a platoon leader in eastern Baghdad during the height of counterinsurgency operations in the Middle East. This period of time of Operation Iraqi Freedom is often referred to as the “troop surge” - a time during which tens of thousands of Soldiers were deployed to stabilize Iraq amid a multi-headed insurgency, competing insurrections, sectarian violence, and civil war. Josh’s sector bordered Sadr City and was considered to be one of the most violent areas of Baghdad during one of the most intense periods of the War on Terrorism.
In April of 2007, Josh and another member of his team were critically wounded by an enemy sniper attack. The high-caliber bullet severed Staff Sergeant Marlon Harper’s aorta – killing him – and then ricocheted into Josh’s upper right thigh and severed his femoral artery. Josh went on to “flatline” for 15 minutes before being revived by an expert medical team. He recovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and redeployed to Baghdad less than 5 months later to finish the deployment with his team. This experience was the catalyst that set the conditions for Josh’s current work in psychological trauma and moral injury.
Josh subsequently served as an Aide-de-Camp to the Deputy Commanding General of Fort Riley, Kansas with the First Infantry Division, where he directly assisted the commander of an 18,000-person organization. At the time, wellness and resilience was emerging as a top priority for the Department of Defense, and Josh was called upon to enter into a national speaking circuit designed to reduce and eliminate stigma associated with psychological trauma. During this time he conducted hundreds of interviews and public speaking engagements and appeared on many “tier-1” media outlets like FOX News, CNN, BBC, and others.
He later took command of a medical company focused on delivering integrated treatment to soldiers returning from combat who were dealing with complex physical and psychological conditions. During this time, Josh developed a cross-generational peer support group focused on counterinsurgency and psychological trauma which was featured on the historical documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. He was also intensely involved in building and supporting holistic retreat experiences for veterans and their spouses which was featured in a powerful documentary by Lisa Ling (then, with the Oprah Winfrey Network as part of the Our America series with Lisa Ling) titled Invisible Wounds of War which debuted in 2011. Josh’s influence in the field of psychological trauma has continued ever since.
In 2015, Josh transitioned from military service and brought his leadership experience to the private sector. He spent 18 months at Tesla where he developed their leadership development program and trained nearly 1000 manufacturing and engineering leaders in the US and Europe in addition to contributing to the launch of their first global employee engagement program. After Tesla, Josh joined Acadia Healthcare – the country’s largest behavioral health treatment company – where he continued to expand his work in psychological trauma to law enforcement and first responder populations. This phase of his life culminated with the delivery of a TEDx Talk in Santo Domingo on moral injury and the publication of his first book, The Beauty of a Darker Soul, which was released in 2018 and quickly attained #1 best-seller status on Amazon.
Today, Josh is among the nation’s leading speakers on psychological trauma. He attained a master’s degree in Philosophy, Consciousness, and Cosmology from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2019 and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the same, with a dissertation focused on the moral psychology of trauma under conditions of conflict. His company, Phaedrus Factory, offers training in moral psychology to psychotherapists working with trauma. Josh is originally from northeastern Pennsylvania where he grew up in a law-enforcement family and currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.